Poor sleep causes: 9 factors affecting your sleep

August 5, 2020 5 mins read
Poor sleep causes: 9 factors affecting your sleep

Poor sleep causes come in many different forms and can have a disruptive effect on our sleeping patterns. Difficulty sleeping, or not waking up feeling refreshed from a night’s sleep is more common than you think. Many factors contribute to our sleeping wellness and can be attributed to how we feel during the day.

In this article, we explore nine factors causing poor sleep to help you get to know what may be affecting your sleeping health.

The causes of poor sleep

1. Insomnia

Insomnia has evolved from acute or mild insomnia brought on by a stressful or anxious lifestyle, and other insomnia causes, to a more severe medicated sleeping condition. People with acute insomnia will experience brief bouts of poor sleep due to life situations that can bring on anxiety or stress. Whereas if you have severe insomnia, you will usually experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood disturbances
  • Decreased performance in their work

2. Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition where your upper airways block, which results in your breathing to stop for a brief moment during the night. Periodically causing you to wake up abruptly, often with a choking sound. Suffering from sleep apnea can in some cases cause poor sleep due to your body

  • Snoring
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Incurable headaches (in extreme cases)
  • Forgetfulness
  • Bouts of depression

3. Restless legs syndrome

Restless legs syndrome or Willis-Ekbom disease is a common condition of the nervous system that causes an overwhelming, irresistible urge to move your legs. Mostly present in the evening, or when we’re asleep, restless leg syndrome is associated with involuntary leg and arm jerking known as periodic limb movements during your sleep. Some people have symptoms of restless legs syndrome occasionally, while others have them every day and can vary from mild to severe, causing poor sleep.

4. Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that brings on excessive daytime sleepiness, often accompanied by additional symptoms, including sleep paralysis, hallucinations, sleep fragmentation, vivid dreams, poor memory and obesity. As there is currently no cure, keeping a healthy lifestyle (and in some cases, medication) will make it more manageable. Even though narcolepsy creates the feeling of being able to sleep at any point, the quality of your sleep is very poor as you don’t cycle through all sleep stages.

5. Pregnancy

For many, pregnancy is a time of great joy, excitement and anticipation. But unfortunately, it can also cause poor sleep, even for women who have never had problems sleeping. A common poor sleeping cause during pregnancy is changing hormone levels which include a few sleep disruptors such as excessive daytime sleepiness, an inhibitory effect on muscles which create a feeling of discomfort when lying down and snoring. There can also be frequent bathroom trips during the night as your pregnancy progresses, which will disrupt your sleep.

6. Nightmares/night terrors

One out of every two adults has nightmares on occasion. Nightmares tend to occur most often during the fifth stage of sleep, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep when most dreaming takes place. The causes of nightmares can vary from late-night eating, which increases the metabolism and signals the brain to be more active, medications, use of narcotics and even non-psychological medications that can cause disturbed sleep. Your mental state also has a lot to do with your nighttime dreams; if you’re feeling anxious or depressed, you are also more likely to experience bouts of vivid dreams.

7. Lifestyle and diet

People who indulge in frequent consumption of coffee, cigarettes, or alcohol before bed (and even during the day) are more likely to have sleeping problems due to the stimulating ‘ingredients’ each of these includes. Additionally, eating or drinking before bed can also result in poor sleep as it could lead to heartburn and frequent nighttime bathroom visits. Addressing simple bedtime habits around food or knowing what foods can improve sleep, can make a huge difference to your sleep quality. Sleep and a healthy lifestyle go hand in hand, so keeping a regular workout routine can also help you sleep better, and vice versa.

8. Poor sleep habits

Be aware of your bedtime environment and sleep habits and check that they fall under good sleep hygiene practices. Make sure the temperature of your bedroom is not too hot or too cold, that all electronics are put away and out of sight, as the artificial lights that these emit can disturb your sleep. Most importantly, set a sleep schedule, going to sleep and waking up at different times every day throws your body’s natural sleep rhythm out of sync, making it even harder to get a good night’s rest.

9. Medication

Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can impact sleep. These can cause insomnia, nightmares and trigger daytime drowsiness that leads to a disruptive sleep quality when it’s time for bed. If you’re having trouble sleeping, look at the medications you take and consult your doctor to learn if these could affect your sleep.

What is poor sleep?

As we’ve uncovered above, there are a lot of factors that can contribute to poor sleep. Common signs that you’re not getting the sleep you deserve can be found during your waking hours and sleeping patterns, such as:

  • An inability to focus during the day
  • Frequent headaches
  • Irritability
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Waking up too early
  • Waking up throughout the night,
  • Struggling to fall asleep

Poor sleep is a big factor in how your body operates and if not recognized, can lead to more serious side effects of sleep deprivation such as obesity, depression, heart disease and diabetes.

By keeping up a healthy lifestyle, and following sleep hygiene practices you can limit the effects that poor sleep can have on your overall wellbeing.